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The Superior of AFO Fr Faustino García opened proceedings. Then Fr Jean Bevande, an African Missionary, spoke about the work of the first day on the subjects of the approach to the evangelisation and education of the young in the context of a Muslim majority in West Africa.
On the second day there was reflection on the Salesian way of getting close to people starting from a knowledge of the context. Some priorities and guiding criteria were identified by those taking part, with an emphasis on the need: to understand the surrounding area, the local language and Islam; to prepare Salesians for this specific mission; to develop in the Salesian communities attitudes suited to the Muslim environment, (showing respect for the surrounding circumstances, a spirit of patience and of being ready for sacrifice, acceptance of failings, not expecting immediate results...); giving attention to personal living witness; and, finally, supporting the formation of the small groups of Christians as though they were “grains of mustard seed”.
The Salesians also agreed that in order to interpret the Preventive System in the working environment in which each community found itself it was necessary to know one’s own spirituality, the local culture and the values promoted by Islam.
This seminar in Bamako was intended to be a first response to the process launched by Fr Guillermo Basañes, Regional Councillor for Africa-Madagascar, during the meeting of the Inter-Provincial Conference of Africa-Madagascar (CIVAM) on Youth Ministry held at Dakar in 2008. On that occasion Fr Basañes insisted very much on the fact that the AFW and AFO Vice Provinces should undertake a reflection on how to achieve a more effective pastoral approach in the context of a Muslim majority.
Those taking part expressed their satisfaction with this first meeting which had helped in the understanding of the ways of working in Muslim contexts and showed the clear desire to continue to work also in this specific area of the mission.